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Two Houston Icons Discuss Social Justice at St. Martin de Porres Feast Day Celebration

The University of St. Thomas St. Martin de Porres Society, the University’s black alumni association, will celebrate the Feast Day of St. Martin de Porres with a “Conversation on Social Justice” and an evening of jazz on Saturday, Nov. 6 on the University of St. Thomas campus.

The Feast Day Celebration will open with a Mass at 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 6 in the Chapel of St. Basil, 3802 Yoakum. The “Conversation on Social Justice” between Rev. William A. Lawson and Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza will be held at 6:15 p.m. in Ahern Room, Crooker Center, 3909 Graustark. The event will culminate with a jazz reception at 7 p.m. in the Old Bookstore, Crooker Center. Live music will be performed by members of the UST Jazz Ensemble. The events are free and open to the public.

Two Houston community leaders known as champions for social justice and change, Rev. William A. Lawson, founding pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church and Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, Archbishop Emeritus of the Houston-Galveston Catholic Archdiocese, will engage in a “Conversation on Social Justice.” Lawson helped to launch the Civil Rights Movement in Houston and Archbishop Fiorenza is an outspoken advocate of applying Catholic social teaching to help alleviate poverty. The dialogue will be moderated by Steven Klineberg, director of the Houston Area Survey.

Rev. William A. Lawson

Rev. William A. Lawson

“Who better to speak on this topic than these two iconic individuals who understand the link between social justice and socio-economic realities,” said Larry Payne, St. Thomas alumnus and president of St. Martin de Porres Society “We are honored to have them participate in the celebration this year. Saint Martin de Porres, the patron saint of pluralism and social justice is the perfect saint to venerate during these stressful times.”

From 1960 to 1970, Lawson served as the director of the Baptist Student Union and a professor of Bible at Texas Southern University. While at Texas Southern University, Lawson helped build the first Afro-American Studies Program at the University of Houston. His involvement with the Civil Rights Movement began when fourteen TSU students held a sit-in protesting segregation at a lunch counter. After founding the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Lawson invited the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at his church in 1963. Lawson served as a pastor for over thirty years. In honor of his dedication to the community, the community created a non-profit organization called the William A. Lawson Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza

Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza

Archbishop Fiorenza was named Bishop of Galveston-Houston by Pope John Paul II in 1984, as Archbishop of Galveston-Houston in 2004 and Archbishop Emeritus of Galveston-Houston in 2006. He previously served as Bishop of San Angelo Diocese, and served as assistant pastor of Queen of Peace Church, professor of medical ethics at Dominican College, administrator of the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedra, pastor of St. Augustine Church, St. Benedict Church and Assumption Church, Vice Chancellor of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston and Chancellor of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. He was named Prelate of Honor to His Holiness in December, 1973. He has served on the Administrative Board of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops since 1995, and formerly served on the Bishops’ Committee for Black Catholics . He has served as vice president and president of the national Conference of Catholic Bishop. He also serves on the boards of the University of St. Thomas and Catholic Charities.

Established in 2009, the St. Martin de Porres Society is devoted to supporting the recruitment, retention, development and graduation of UST’s current and prospective African-American students in the Houston community. In its second year, the Society has partnered with the UST Rev. William Young Social Justice Institute.

Founded in 1947, the University of St. Thomas is Houston’s first and only Catholic university and is dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education.

For more information contact Ryane Jackson at 713-525-2147.

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